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What is a Press Pass and How to Get One?

What is a Press Pass and How to Get One?

Freelance journalists and photographers have a hard time getting press passes which grant access to events that aren't open to the public. Read this article to know about press passes, and how to get them.
Vijith Menon
SCOTUSblog, a prominent website, were denied press passes to cover hearings by the Supreme Court, despite having more accuracy than most television networks.
Journalism has always been a tough gig. With rival news agencies and the yellow police line very difficult to cross, information doesn't come easy. Since abrupt eyewitness accounts or rumors rarely sell a good story, except in gonzo journalism, hard facts are difficult to come by. Journalists have been granted the right to access information of private organizations and the activities of the government, but it isn't that easy with their PR (public relations) agents blocking the way.
Luckily, there's a way to bypass the red tape and get the right information. When journalists need to uncover information that goes beyond what's available at large to the public, they need some credentials, regardless of the rules that deny this privilege to the general public. The most exclusive events and the grisliest crime scenes can be accessed by a single card. This is called a press card, which offers special privileges to journalists, photographers, and bloggers.
What is a Press Pass?
Press passes are issued to journalists who cover breaking news stories, or have sustained a reputation of covering live news. This can be applied to both, print media and web. NYPD (New York Police Department) only doles out press passes to journalists who have crossed the yellow police line six times. Those in possession of a press pass are often asked for an ID that belongs to the accredited organization or newspaper, as further proof of being a journalist.

Press passes are also issued for soon-to-be-released-films or launch events of a popular brand. But these are issued to only respected journalists. They are also issued at concerts, which serve as a backstage pass, so that journalists can interview the band later, or have their photos taken by photographers. Those issued for vehicles lets you park in non-residential areas, normally considered illegal.
What Does a Press Pass Look Like?
An authentic press pass is made of plastic that is used to make credit cards. Since there are journalists who may reap the benefits by going to exclusive events without publishing any work, a press pass needs to be renewed ever year.
How to Get a Press Pass
Press passes are always difficult to get for freelance journalists and photographers. Even bloggers aren't considered to be journalists, despite the fact that they cover news very accurately. But you can get a press pass if the company you are working for issues them. Or, your ID card too may work as your press pass. But for first-timers or amateurs, the following companies offer these passes:

Cable Muse
Cable Muse offers its membership to freelance journalists of all kinds for an annual subscription. There are 2 types of memberships: correspondent membership, which offers you a press pass valid only for a year, for a fee of USD 84.50. Students or amateur bloggers starting out can get a press pass for a discounted price of USD 56.00.

International Press Federation
This is one of the major organizations that serves as a haven for freelance journalists. It not only hires journalists from the print industry, but from the media and web as well. It has 2 types of memberships - standard and corporate membership. Standard membership comprises 2 packages - individual membership (IM), which has a yearly subscription of USD 135.00, wherein the member receives a press pass; and professional membership (PM) costs USD 205.00 for a year, wherein the member receives a 2-year membership, as well as a vehicle press ID. Corporate membership is offered to institutes offering training, colleges, or magazines, for an annual fee of USD 338.00.

International Federation of New Media
This is an organization that covers writers related to radio, television, magazines, and newspapers. You can obtain a press card after filling up their online subscription form, and paying an annual fee of USD 103.50, and a vehicle press card for an annual fee of USD 123.50.

International Press Association (IPA)
This is a 25-year-old organization that gives press passes to journalists and photographers for a subscription that has to be renewed every year. It has 3 types of memberships - Silver at USD 155.00, Gold at USD 205.00, and Platinum at USD 255.00. The Silver membership has been designed for reporters who wish to bring their spouses or extra crew to cover a trade show or event. The Gold membership guarantees that your article will be published on the IPA website. The Platinum membership gets your vehicle a press card, which lets you park at resident-only zones.
A press pass is only issued to those journalists or bloggers who have a minimum of 20 articles published online. If you are an aspiring journalist, blogger, or photographer, you can try these organizations to get your press credentials so as to help you get on your way.